Splendor is a game where players compete to purchase cards from a pool in the center of the table, buying them with gems. Each card is actually a gem mine, producing a discount for future purchases of one color gem. Once someone has reached 15 victory points, they win. There are a few more details, but that’s pretty much the game.
Oh, and this game will make you concentrate and obsess like almost no other.
I’ve talked to many players who have their own strategies for this little beauty of a game. One friend swears that he snatches up the cheaper cards as fast as he can, building a whirring economics powerhouse that allows him to pluck cards from the table with almost no consideration of their cost. Another friend insists that patience is the watchword, slowly building up his gem reserves until he can buy the juicy four and five point cards from the top row, leaping towards victory one huge chunk of points at a time. My strategy is to carefully watch my opponent (usually my wife) until I see what card she’s trying to buy, then reserving it with no intention of ever buying in just to see the blood in her eyes as she debates her next move while dialing divorce attorneys.
Splendor is a ferociously abstract game, and the theme is almost incidental. But it doesn’t matter. The speed of the game, the simplicity of the rules, and the weight of those poker chips (one of the best physical design decisions in board game history) make this game irresistible. It’s inexpensive, easy to learn, and a genuine challenge to master.
- Dietrich Stogner